Saturday, December 22, 2007

Agronomic Practices

Pruning is very important in dragon fruit cultivation. Besides, it provides good framework and balance for plant canopy, it allows good ventilation for plants. Small insects might live within the compact canopy making spraying of insects difficult. I have observed that farmers practise the wrong way to prune dragon fruits making it attack by insects badly.

The top pic shows how farmers pruned dragon fruits the wrong way.It has become multi layer that caused heavy load to the support stand.

Below is the correct way how to prune dragon fruit. The top part should be free from new shoot growth allowing sunshine to penetrate and good ventilation.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Visit To Brunei Darulsalam

I had spent my holidays in Brunei from 26th to 30th November.This is my first visit to the country. I crossed through Limbang, then to Temburong. What is interesting to me is that there are farmers already planting this fruits. I saw they used 2 cuttings per stake made from 'berlian' wood.
I had observed how the farmers made their own organic fertilizers and the farm was very clean. I traced out some secrets of how they control diseases using the cheapest way. The only disease I noticed was brown rust spot caused by Dothirella but it is under control.The weather was wet and dry. Brunei had a very good potential to produce dragon fruits however early works should be done such as suitable land establishment, good and reliable planting materials, management practices and marketing as well downstream activities must be well planed and worked out. The people are eager to plant if the incentives are right.

Prior going to Brunei, I was asked to go to investigate disease breakout in Johore. About 50 acres were infected. What I observed that due to flooding, but the farmers did not control the disease from spreading partly due to bad sanitation and field agronomic activities.Apart from that farmers did not practice the correct pruning techniques, the canopy was dense and crowded that harvest a lot of insects and fungus.One more thing they did not pruned at the joints, making easy infection of diseases to enter if the branches were half-pruned.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Dragon Fruit Poster in Bahasa Melayu

I have to present a poster as well as fruit samples including tissue culture plantlets at one of the agricultural convention in the country. Here is my poster in Malay language.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Fruitful Farm

This dragon fruit farm was located on a former oil palm plantation situated in Malacca. It was clean and fruiting well. One of the problems I managed to counter was that the fruits were attacked by fruit flies- no incidence have ever reported some where else. So the best way to control is hand-wrapped all the fruits at early stage of fruiting.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dragon Fruit Plantation

Malaysia is blessed with good tropical climate. Besides fruits, many crops can be grown here like rubber, oil palm, paddy and cocoa . One of the most recent newcomers in the Malaysian fruit industry is dragon fruits (Hylocereus polyrhizus). After many trials and errors, dragon cultivation has made its way in the Malaysian fruit industry. Unlike Vietnam and Thailand which had long history of dragon fruit growing, Malaysia is keeping good pace to lead its niche market due to high local demand.

The local name for dragon fruit is ‘buah naga’ or ‘buah mata naga’. In Malaysia, the scale for dragon fruit crop cultivation is very small which is about 300 hectares compared to other crops however, the rate of expansion is increasing tremendously fast. The dragon fruit growing areas are in the states of Johor, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Pulau Pinang and Sabah.

Since dragon fruits originated from different climatic conditions, it has to undergo environmental adaptations and agromanagement practices.

If R & D is been prioritize, then one day it will become one of the leading export earner of Malaysia. The pic above shows one of the dragon fruit plantation in Malaysia .This farm is araound 100 acres. There many such farms in the country.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Diseases of dragon fruits.

Like many other plants, dragon fruits are also attacked by diseases. We have found common disease that attack and caused infection. The common ones are bacteria and fungus.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Dragon fruit flowering

Dragon fruits flowers after 1 year old after planting. There are many factors that cause flowering. 1. Variety - some variety can flower very fast. 2. age of cuttings -cuttings taken from watershoots are not good because they are soft. 3. Adequate fertilization.-correct NPK is needed nutrient balance.

I sometimes see flower abortion. This can be due several reasons. a) not enough nutrient- should give foliar nutrients b) flower did not pollinate. - the stigma dries up and abort ; may be no pollinators around.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Technical Posters on Dragon Fruits

I have just came back from Sabah, East Malaysia. I was attending the 18th Malaysian Society of Plant Physiology (MSPP) Conference at Le Meredian Hotel. It was officiated by the Sabah State Agrciculture Minister. I saw a lot of new and old faces get back together. There are various topics discussed from global warming to dragon fruits planting. The meeting was diverse and many new ideas discussed. There was a post tour conference to Kinabalu Parks and Poring which I had been.

I had the opportunity to give an oral presentaion on dragon fruits entitles "Challenges in Dragon Fruits Growing in Malaysia". There were 3 other papers related to dragon fruits. I have managed to include two posters here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dragon Fruit Phenology

Dragon fruits mature very fast. It take a year to produce fruits.The fruiting cycle take about 45 days.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Techniques in Dragon Fruit Planting

There are many techniques of how dragon fruits can be planted. It can be planted in row, single and so forth. Not only dragon fruits can be planting as big plantations but it could planted in a house compound. Both big and small growers can benefit from this crop- as only planting techniques needs some changes. Be creative

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tallest Dragon Fruits in The World

Wow! I have never seen such tall dragon fruits like this. It was taken in Tawau, Sabah during my recent visit there. The cactus grow on a big dipterocarp, 100 ft in height. The epiphytic cactus grows happily on the tree stems. I notice no fruits bearing that time. I conclude that dragon fruits need full sunshine hours to bear flowers and fruits.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Close Planting of Dragon Fruits

The normal or conventional planting density in dragon fruits is 2 meter X 3 meter (6 ft.X 9 ft.).This means that for an acre only 2,000 plants could be planted.It is a good idea if the planting density could be increased so that many plants could be plant per unit area.
I have seen close planting of dragon fruits in Chiangmai. However, during my visit it was not fruiting season. I think their planting density is 1 ft X 10 ft.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dragon Fruits Adds Another Niche

Since the last ten years we hardly see dragon fruits grown in tropical conditions. It has been known that dragon fruits are long day plants.Meaning that it makes food at night. However, lately we can see it has emerged as a newcomer in the tropical fruit industry. It is been liken by everybody from different walks of like. I believe that climate change has something to do with the adaptations of the crop in the hot and humid tropics like Malaysia.

In the pic above, dragon fruit outshines guava,mangosteen, 'buah tampoi' and rambutan.These fruits make a beautiful basket of fruits.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

mmm..what a quench!

Dragon fruits are not only consumed as fresh but could be turned into straight drinks. It could be mixed with ice and a little bit of sugar. Muawh! What a taste!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yellow Dragon Fruit

Yellow dragon fruits are one the varieties planted here.However, only it is planted in a small scale.I have tasted and it is very sweet but the seeds are larger than the white and red varieties. The skin colour looks yellow and the fruits are quite small between 150 to 250 g compared to the red varieties which easily weighs up to 600-800g.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Red and White flesh Dragon fruits.

It very interesting to note that the popular dragon fruits in this country is red and white flesh varieties eventhough there are yellow ones. From reports that the red pigment is made up of betanin , betacyanin and lycopene. These are anthocyanins group which are antioxidants good for the body metabolisme.

Betanins are " An anthocyanin that contains nitrogen and constitutes the principal pigment of garden beets.

Report says that Betanin, or Beetroot Red, is a red glycosidic food dye obtained from beetroot; its glycone, obtained by hydrolyzing away the glucose molecule, is betanidin. As a food additive, its E number is E162. Betanin degrades when subjected to light, heat, and oxygen; therefore, it is used in frozen products, products with short shelf life, or products sold in dry state. [1]

Betanin can survive pasteurization when in products with high sugar content. Its sensitivity to oxygen is highest in products with high content of water and/or containing metal cations (eg. iron and copper); antioxidants like ascorbic acid and sequestrants can slow this process down, together with suitable packaging. In dry form betanin is stable in presence of oxygen.

Betanin is usually obtained from the extract of beet juice; the concentration of betanin in red beet can reach 300-600 mg/kg. Other dietary sources of betanin and other betalains include the opuntia cactus, Swiss chard, and the leaves of some strains of amaranth.

While , lycopene is a red, fat-soluble pigment found in vegetables, and most commonly found in tomatoes. It is one of a family of pigments called carotenoids. Carotenoids are naturally occurring pigments responsible for the brightly colored fall leaves and the vivid colors of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. In fruits and vegetables, these pigments range in hue from bright yellow in squash, to orange in carrots, to bright red in tomatoes and peppers.

Lycopene (as well as other carotenoids such as lutein and beta-carotene) may also help prevent macular degenerative disease, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65.

Lycopene is the only micronutrient whose serum level was shown to be inversely related to the risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Nutritional values of dragon fruits

It seems that dragon fruits had high carotene contents compare with pineapple and mango.

Visit to Dragon Fruits Farm

Last week I had the opportunity to visit dragon fruit farms (40 acres); one hour drive from my office. Besides, dragon fruits this farm had bananas; coconut, jackfruit, anona and papaya.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Lecture on Dragon Fruits Growing

This week I had the chance to give lecture series on "Dragonfruit Growing: Cultivation and Technology" to growers alike.That this moment I am waiting and ready. I have had also many requests from interested parties to set up dragon fruit growing in a large scale. I also managed to do some economic analysis esp IRR and NPV which I have left before.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Growing Dragon Fruits Needs Concrete Support

Dragon fruits are easy to grow however it needs support or stake to stand on. Its succulent stems are tender and branches upwards and later downwards. Long and mature branches also needs support to rest on before flowering commences. The soil must be good condition such as sand soil and sand loam soil because their have rich an organic material for growing

Dragon fruits -the miracle fruits

Besides being consumed fresh, the red dragon fruit can be processed into cordial, jam,wine and other products. There are reports that the content and the skin of dragon fruit can become natural food coloring and lipsticks. This natural food coloring is safe to be used because it does not have any side effects and no harm to our health. Young shoots can be cooked just like we cook lady's finger. Its nutritious. There is another source vegetable which had medicinal value in our diet. The dry flowers can be processed to make tea.

The potential of the dragon fruit plantation to increase is very bright due to untapped downstream activities of its by products. This is supported by early investment return, less risk high market demand compared other tropical fruits.